• jess

LIVE: Visiting my childhood home with C-PTSD. I'm "run-falling" downhill.

Continuing with my real-time reporting of life in a triggering place at a triggering time…


A few days ago, I came to my “home area” and things are going a bit wild in the transition.


Since getting here (the morning after arriving) I’ve been penning new posts that I really wasn’t intending to write to relay the ways my trauma recovery mindset has been dragged through a few shit piles upon upsetting my largely untriggered life. I left my comfortable and controlled home in Atlanta to take care of necessary tasks in my home-area of Illinois on Monday… and my mental health has been “adjusting.”


The result has been a rapid slide into trauma responses. Anxiety, depression, and defeat are running high. My inner critic is being an ass, and so am I.


I could shy away from writing and wait for everything to level out, but that’s disingenuous to the project. I don’t want to hide the hideous truth, so I’m going to double down on writing about it, and what I’m trying to do to combat it, instead.


Here’s where I’m at. Day 3 of being back in my complex trauma hell, and finally putting words to my tumbling emotions.


Fuckers, I’m happy ("happy") to say I finally came up with the metaphor to describe my traumanxiety today.




Falling and I can’t keep up


I talk a lot about taking days slow, giving myself time to do nothing so I can settle up my thoughts and feelings, taking long hikes to get my head organized… And dude, when I don’t, I’m a motherfucking nightmare. I mean it.


I keep waking up upset. My eyes open to the feeling of anxiety. My head spins and my thoughts cycle too quickly to process a single one. When I’m talking to folks, I’m crawling out of my skin with restlessness. When I try to focus, my head goes to a thousand different places. I find myself standing in the fridge, pacing around the house, and checking my damn phone. For the first time in months, I’ve been craving drinks and cigarettes as distracted ways to “chill.” I feel like I can’t keep up with life, other people, or myself.


What the motherfuck is that? Where is this coming from?


Yeah, you don’t even wanna know about how your girl be tripping right now — but let’s talk about it metaphorically.


The best way to describe my initial sensations being back in my home environment is, I feel like I’m half-falling, half-running down the side of a steep mountain and I can’t keep up with my legs. This anxiety is bananas.


The best way to describe my initial sensations being back in my home environment is, I feel like I’m half-falling, half-running down the side of a steep mountain and I can’t keep up with my legs. This anxiety is bananas.

I’m traveling down Trigger Mountain, trying my best to be focused forward, to see the obstacles coming my way, and to react with composure and strategy before I stumble and break my goddamn leg on one of these jagged rocks… but because of my pace, everything is coming at me too quickly. My brain is lagging behind a few steps, barely capable of responding to the approaching hurdles by the time I notice them.


My body and trauma brain are on high alert.


I’m pumped full of stimulated and restless energy, which is just pushing my momentum forward even faster. It certainly isn’t improving my coordination or skillful maneuvering around everything trippin me up. To make things more complicated, besides my forward moving free-fall, there’s a swarm of angry bees close behind that were materialized from all the things I’ve left unsettled in the recent past while preparing for the trip and making the drive. My head is whipping forwards and backwards as I try to take in all the potential sources of pain at once. I’m unsure what to worry about most.


I don’t miss feeling this way. Overwhelmed with emotions, expectations, and worry. Unable to calm down my activated body.


I don’t miss feeling this way. Overwhelmed with emotions, expectations, and worry. Unable to calm down my activated body.

My situation feels dangerous from all sides and it’s very overwhelming to try to navigate all at once. If I could slow down or take a break void of so many challenges, maybe I could find my pacing again. Breathe easier. See the obstacles from all directions and formulate a plan to overcome them with grace and intention.


But until then, it feels like I’m stumbling and flailing, out of control and watching rock bottom getting ever closer.

Falling from high places


So, I’m now 5 days into my cross-country trip back home to Northern Illinois. And clearly I’m running into trauma challenges along the way.


The decline from doing SO FUCKING GREAT for months to this place of medium-anxiety, occasional-depression, and sudden fearfulness about the future is really freaking me out.

It’s scary to see that my progress is so shakeable; I just need to be around the usual triggers without my usual routine, and everything starts to crumble.


It’s scary to see that my progress is so shakeable; I just need to be around the usual triggers without my usual routine, and everything starts to crumble.

There’s such a huge discrepancy between how I felt in the seclusion of my home in Atlanta and how I’m doing around friends and family in Illinois. The practical difference is a matter of a few days and 800 miles. The more critical difference is losing complete control of my everyday activities and environment.


Obviously, this shit definitely reminds me of exactly how fragile my trauma recovery mindset is. How close I am perpetually to slipping back into the depths of anxiety, sadness, and stagnancy. How 100% necessary it is to have daily practices that keep my fucked up head in line — or pay the trauma tollman.

Breaking routine, building tensions… being a dick


For the first time in months or years, I think I sorta hate myself again.

In the past few days, I’ve felt extremely off-balance. Sad. Heavy. Frustrated. Unhappy with me.


Worst of all, in the moments when my anxiety is bubbling up uncontrolled, I’ve been a fucking jerk to the people I love.


Worst of all, in the moments when my anxiety is bubbling up uncontrolled, I’ve been a fucking jerk to the people I love.

I’ve been snippy with my mom. I’ve lost my temper at her usual neurotic behaviors that she’s dealing with. I was short with a really good friend last night. Despite my best efforts to be connected, and patient, I’ve struggled to be present because of my sense of upset.


I feel like my mountainside tumble is preventing me from fully connecting with my mom and loved ones. I’m not fully present when we interact because my head is still whipping back and forth, wild eyed as I take in all the new pressures. I’m operating at a full-out downwards sprint, and even well-meaning input from the stationary folks around me is causing me to stumble. In turn, I spit venom at onlookers, wishing they would just let me get my bearings for a fucking second.


I see where my tension is breeding interpersonal agitation, how I’m hurting other people’s feelings with my impulsive words, and I hate it. As a result, my bullying inner voice is building power to make sure I’m hurting myself with my words, as well.


I see where my tension is breeding interpersonal agitation, how I’m hurting other people’s feelings with my impulsive words, and I hate it. As a result, my bullying inner voice is building power to make sure I’m hurting myself with my words, as well.

The voice in my head has been increasingly whispering about what a pain in the dick I am. How I don’t deserve to have people in my life. How I’m unfit for personal relationships. How nothing is ever going to change.


All the same nonsense that puts me into a victim mentality and stirs up my traumatized belief in DOOM.


I know that this is my inner critic beating me down, just like it was trained for 20 years in the sparring ring, but I feel the shame and blame weighing down on me, nonetheless.


I’m feeling like a piece of shit and wondering “what the motherfuck is wrong with you” as snark slips out. Why can’t you just lean back, find your balance, and slow down before you bowl everyone over?


Thinking about next steps (before frantic legs carry me away)


I’m not accepting this reignited traumatized energy without a fight. I won’t let my brain get back to the low points it’s been before. After all the successes I’ve made controlling my anxiety, agoraphobia, depression, and hopelessness, I won’t let my homeroots be the reason that I slip back into misery again.


I have the tools and knowledge I need. Now I just have to keep my head on straight, and DO THE THINGS.



Here are my emergency control plans:


Looking forward, I’m going to make a bigger point of finding somewhere nature-y to exercise in the morning. Not sure how long I’ll be here, so I might as well locate a local nature conservation for my early morning hikes.


Like I keep preaching, get outside and moving is my number one way to manage my mental landscape. I get fucked up whenever I stray from the practice and my thoughts get disorganized and manic. Get outdoors again; Step one.


Next, when I start getting all antsy-anxiety-miserable, I need to stop trying to force myself to work. Or, rather, I need to stop myself from working. Working is an easy way to distract myself from whatever is going on rather than dealing with it.

Next, when I start getting all antsy-anxiety-miserable, I need to stop trying to force myself to work. Or, rather, I need to stop myself from working. Working is an easy way to distract myself from whatever is going on rather than dealing with it.


I feel justified as an anxious workaholic, because I’m being productive… but my work comes out uninspired and my brain only becomes a bigger mess during the 12 hours of computer-pounding.


When I’m unsettled in the body and brain, I need to do nothing. I need to invite the bad feelings and realize they’re full of good information. Address the problem rather than running from it.


Interpersonally, I need to work on communicating my challenges with the folks around me. If I feel shut down and freaked out, I need to be open and clear about it with everyone I can. I can’t expect others to help my mental illness — it’s my responsibility to be accountable and self-sufficient — but letting them know that I’m in a weird place will reduce the chances for unintended personal slights.

Interpersonally, I need to work on communicating my challenges with the folks around me. If I feel shut down and freaked out, I need to be open and clear about it with everyone I can. I can’t expect others to help my mental illness — it’s my responsibility to be accountable and self-sufficient — but letting them know that I’m in a weird place will reduce the chances for unintended personal slights.


For instance, learning to talk to my mom about anxiety, depression, and trauma responses has been a long battle, but these days she gets it a little more when I’m spontaneously a dick out of nowhere. We can talk about it. We can address the things that cause me to be tense, panicky, and emotional. Being understood matters.


Internet-personally…. I’m going to keep talking about these trials (and hopefully breakthroughs). I think people should see the roller coaster-like emotional world of living with complex trauma. It is baffling that mental health can ride such high and low waves in a single week, and I’m guessing that’s helpful for other sufferers and their associates to see that they aren’t unique.

Internet-personally…. I’m going to keep talking about these trials (and hopefully breakthroughs). I think people should see the roller coaster-like emotional world of living with complex trauma. It is baffling that mental health can ride such high and low waves in a single week, and I’m guessing that’s helpful for other sufferers and their associates to see that they aren’t unique.


I think it’s relatable that I’m back in my childhood circumstances, revisiting my childhood traumas, and having adult realizations about how I’m still impacted. I think a lot of us are hanging on with white knuckles when all stimuli are reminiscent of our fucked-up pasts.


Plus, as an added bonus for me, it really helps to sit back and look at this objectively when I’m writing. It’s like running a little experiment, “CAN I pull myself back into saneland if I put all my effort into it? And how so?” Let the trials begin.


I’m going to try to create the circumstances I need for focused work, meditation, and gentle thinking breaks. That means, a quiet, dark, controllable room where I can hunker down at a comfortable desk for writing and drawing.

To keep motivated instead of stalling out, I’m going to find a quiet, secluded place to work. It will be helpful to get away from the distractions of the kitchen, bright windows, and massive blind dog crashing into everything.


I’m going to try to create the circumstances I need for focused work, meditation, and gentle thinking breaks. That means, a quiet, dark, controllable room where I can hunker down at a comfortable desk for writing and drawing.


Plus, a place that I can take a break by laying down on my back for a moment or two. I’ve described it before; it’s massively helpful for me to change postures, lay down, and feel pressure on my back for an almost instantaneous reset. When my head is cluttered after working in a tunnel for a few hours, I just need a moment to get back into the swing.


It sounds attractive to drown out some of the anxiety with depressants, burning lungs, and food games… but I know these maladaptive coping skills are only going to set me back. After one night of moderate drinking, I feel the anxiety coursing through my body the next day. I’m depressed, I’m emotionally unregulated, and I’m puffy to top it all off.

Lastly, on the addictive self-sabotage front…. No matter what, I’m not going to fall into habits that make the uphill anxiety climb even steeper. Boozin, snoozin, and loozin my appetite control. (Sorry, that was a stretch.)


It sounds attractive to drown out some of the anxiety with depressants, burning lungs, and food games… but I know these maladaptive coping skills are only going to set me back. After one night of moderate drinking, I feel the anxiety coursing through my body the next day. I’m depressed, I’m emotionally unregulated, and I’m puffy to top it all off.


Not worth sliding backwards after all these months of clean eating, 90% reduced alcohol consumption, and quitting cigarettes.


See you at the bottom — one way or the other


I know my complex trauma experience isn’t unique; family is challenging, losing control of your environment is triggering, and breaking mental health routines can be catastrophic. I’m happy to keep chatting about it as I try to find my footing.


The good news is, I’m aware of the issues and I’m equipped with the wherewithal, tools, and support that I need. I just have to keep my objective brain in control and slow down my manic running from imagined dangers. Let’s see where this leads.


Hopefully, I’ll navigate all these jagged obstacles and arrive at the base of Mount Childhood Trauma in one piece.


I’ll see you at the bottom!





Have some stories to share from your own journeys back into the belly of the beast? Please, send them our way! Comment, Contact, or Email away!


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Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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